New service in Winnipeg for those dealing with mental illness

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The Canadian Mental Health Association Winnipeg Region (CMHAW) opened its doors to the public the first week of October.

CMHA, established in 1918, is one of the first and longest volunteer run programs working with mental illness and promotion of mental health.

Healthy Living, Seniors and Consumer Affairs Minister Jim Rondeau officially opened the building—a 12,000-square-foot Community Education and Service Centre on Portage Avenue—along with CMHA and other mental health partners.

“This new centre will provide a welcoming atmosphere and a broader range of supports and services for individuals and families experiencing mental health issues,” said Rondeau. “It will also be a great resource for the community, given its new capacity for training and education.”

The centre will include housing for staff and clients using the services provided, which will help the program’s efficiency. Room for growth is an essential part of the programming through use of research and a new strategic planning program.

The opening of the CMHAW coincided with Mental Illness Awareness Week, which ran the first week of October. It is a national public education campaign, established in 1992, that raises awareness about the reality of mental health. The focus of the campaign is to open up discussion about the necessities of access to public mental health facilities for all Canadians.

With the launch of Mental Illness Awareness Week, CMHAW released their new strategic plan, intended to increase expertise, capacity, and dedication towards the needs of individuals who are mentally ill, and promote mental health as a whole. Their goal is to become a top mental health leader through more coordination and effective organization of staff and volunteers.

CMHAW are considered one of the only mental health associations to integrate mental illness and health into a whole. This holistic approach is different from programs that focus solely on mental illness or solely on mental health.

“Because CMHA is the only association in Canada that addresses all aspects of mental health and mental illness, it is in a unique position to bring this interconnectedness into the public discourse,” states the CMHAW website.

They have recognized that all communities across Canada are different and they intend to implement autonomy at a local level. Future programs of different locations will require change based on the community they are providing for. Their priorities include increasing numbers and being open to making changes to the programming.

The centre is a government funded facility, and is always open for public donations. Some of the project funders include the Province of Manitoba, Government of Canada, Winnipeg Foundation, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, and Wawanesa Insurance.